Gallbladder cancer

What is gallbladder cancer?
Gallbladder cancer is cancer that develops in the gallbladder, the organ that stores bile. Bile is fluid produced by the liver that digests fat.

What causes gallbladder cancer?
No exact cause of gallbladder cancer is known, but several factors have been identified that may increase the chances of developing the disease:
• Long-term inflammation of the gall bladder
• Being female
• Polyps (growths) that grow on the inner wall of the gallbladder. These may turn cancerous
• Obesity
Having one or more risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get gallbladder cancer.

What are the symptoms of gallbladder cancer?
Unfortunately, gallbladder cancer is hard to detect and does not usually present any symptoms until it is advanced. This is why we strongly recommend you take early detection tests to screen for cancer. Symptoms of gallbladder cancer may include:
• Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
• Fever
• Nausea or vomiting
• Pain above the stomach
• Feeling a lump in the abdomen

How is gallbladder cancer diagnosed?
At KHCC, a variety of diagnostic techniques are used to accurately detect and stage gallbladder cancer including:
• CEA (Carcinoembryonic anitgen) or CA19-9 are two blood tests that may be elevated at diagnosis and help in following the patient’s response to treatment during and after therapy
• ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), which is a procedure used to examine and diagnose diseases of the liver, bile ducts, and pancreas
• Laparoscopic biopsy to obtain tissue samples in and around the liver for further study
• Endoscopic ultrasounds for more precise assessment of the tumor
• CT scan or MRI of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to assess whether the disease has spread to other areas of the body
 
How is gallbladder cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.
Surgery is usually the first form of treatment in patients with gallbladder cancer. Depending on the stage of the cancer, most patients require some form of surgery to remove the tumor in addition to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
 
Physicians
At KHCC, gallbladder cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of specialists highly experienced in treating gallbladder cancer and other gastrointestinal tumors

Supportive Care
The gastrointestinal multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that gallbladder cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include:
• For patients who have to have temporary or permanent colostomies, a stoma team is on hand to counsel them and show them how to use colostomy pouches.